All blood and thunder

 

Predator is a brilliant film.

I say this under advisement. I’m not averse to more arthouse fare on occasion, but as far as 80s action films go, Predator is right up there. It’s not every fella that can make Schwarzenegger look like a 90 pound stripling, after all. More importantly the Predator character, such as he is, plays right into the omnipotence complexes that we gamers often have. It’s all very well to run and gun, but I always gain far more satisfation from the 400-yard headshot. Patience. Awareness. Strategy, not tactics.


For me, the Predator is just about the most silkily slick killer in contemporary sci-fi. So why is it that every game I’ve ever played the bugger in imbues him with all the grace and poise of a one-legged reject from Strictly Come Dancing?

Predator: Concrete Jungle is the most notable offender, making the management of the cloaked killing machine about as much fun as thumb-wrestling Jimmy Giant Thumbs while wearing sandpaper boxer shorts. But Alien V Predator, Rebellion’s new offering, makes plenty of mis-steps too. Don’t get me wrong… the game is not bad at all and plugs into a particularly primal spot on my fun gland. But there’s not a developer I can think of who’s brought balletic grace to the big fella.

Why can’t old Dreadlocks flit seamlessly from vantage point to vantage point? Batman can. Rikimaru from Tenchu can. Sam bloody Fisher can. Maybe that’s the fallacy. Concrete Jungle went so horribly wrong because it worried too much about the arsenal of weaponry… spear, disc, and all that jazz. At his (its?) heart, the Predator is a ninja, albeit a 200 kilo one with exotic alien weaponry. He’s not for charging headlong into a pack of goons and steamrollering the lot of them… he’s for sitting on a branch 200 feet up and decoying individual goons away from the pack and into a gory death, to be recorded on an alien 8-track and played back later to a Sergeant Mac while he’s having a psychotic episode.

To be fair, the new game makes some efforts to address this… you’re basically a stealth character. At the same time, you do suffer from TMSS… too much stuff syndrome. You have loads of take-down options and it can feel a little overwhelming, and with slightly clunky response on the controls, that hoped-for dimension of sheer alien slick-ass badness is taken away.

I’m looking forward to really getting into AvP as a multiplayer proposition. I really am. I can’t help it if, deep down, I want to be a space ninja.

Rob Hobson

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